A brief review of the prevailing charges made that many ministers are leaving or breaking down, and that the churches are dead or dying parts of the "Establishment" and isolated from the real world.
The derivation of the names for the leaders of the First Century church which includes, among others, the terms Ministery (I), Apostles (II), Bishops and Deacons (III), Prophets & Teachers (IV), Presbyters and Elders (V), and the Episcopacy (VI).
In Protestantism every minister is to be a theologian, to think and inquire actively. This image is rejected by American clergy as pretentious even as they privately theologize by thinking actively about what God has done and continues to do in specific situations in their ministering.
If the ministry of disciplining is to avoid the image of punishing, it must find its roots in the word "disciple" with its emphasis on voluntary commitment and self-disciplining, and an image of the minister in prayer as he both disciplines himself personally and professionally, and encourages the laity to do the same.
Beginning with the missionary movement in the early nineteenth century the church began offering ministries to people in special settings or with special problems, including military and hospital chaplains, and service to the disadvantaged in urban, rural, suburban and metropolitan settings. This has involved reconsideration of the appropriateness, education, funding and accountability of these ministries.
Having sketched "cartoon" images of nine different kinds of Protestant ministry, the author finds a unity within the diversity in these images as seen in the centrality of the Bible in each, the being engaged with all kinds of people, and always on the same level with them.
There is meager evidence for the end of the New Testament epoch and the beginning of the Patristic period concerning the various leadership positions. There were at least five competing images in which a chief pastor of a Christian church might see himself mirrored (c. 125): as an elder of a Christian sanhedrin, as an apostle, as a prophet, as a high priest, or as an epiphany of God or Christ to the Christian people. The various orders are gradually refined. The Nicene Council delineated an understanding concerning some of the ecclesiastical positions.
The author sees the nature of the ordained ministry in terms of functions, or what the minister actually does, by examining the biblical bases and the historical development of ministry, and concludes that the church can only function with competent professional leadership.
The dominant image of the Protestant ministry is of the preacher in the pulpit with an open Bible before him, which involves a rejection of certain aspects of medieval Catholic theology and practice, and results in some cases in pathological distortion of the preacher-pulpit-Bible image.
In the complete change of religious climate after Constantine most of the new patterns of priestly behavior and pastoral rule which were to prevail for a millennium in both Eastern and Western Catholicism until challenged by Protestantism were laid down in the period between the Council of Arles in 314 and the Council of Chalcedon in 451.